YEAR-ROUND DROUGHT EXPECTED FOR US SOUTHWEST BY END OF CENTURY

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5 october 2016

Megadroughts are 'virtually certain,' even if it rains a lot, study finds

Maria Gallucci, Mashable, October 5, 2016

The U.S. Southwest is almost guaranteed to suffer scorching, decades-long "megadroughts" if the world continues producing greenhouse gas emissions at its current pace, a new study warns.

Southwestern states could see the risks of megadroughts rise up to 99 percent by the end of this century as global warming drives up regional temperatures, a team of U.S. researchers said.
On the flip side, lowering global emissions and limiting future global warming would reduce the Southwest's risk of prolonged droughts, the researchers found in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

"Megadroughts are virtually certain in a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario," Toby Ault, the study's lead author and an assistant professor at Cornell University in New York, told Mashable.

"There really still are benefits to adopting an aggressive [emissions] mitigation strategy to reduce the risk of megadroughts," he added.

The paper builds on the team's earlier findings that rising carbon emissions could drastically increase the risk of decades-long droughts, which would further strain the region's already limited water supplies and spark substantially more forest fires, dust storms and tree diseases.

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